Tuesday, March 31, 2020

For the Easter Week Newspaper

Living in Saturday Time

Normally this weekend is a time of full churches and triumphant songs and celebrations. This year our buildings will sit empty and quiet, with the Alleluias shared in the comfort of our homes. Assuming, of course, that we find a place for Alleluia in the midst of our anxiety and grief.

What does it mean to proclaim the Good News in the middle of a global pandemic and economic turmoil?

This year the high point of the Christian Year comes at a time of great anxiety. This year the story of Life defeating Death comes at a time where people are grieving many things. We are grieving the loss of things we used to take for granted: going for coffee with friends, a restaurant meal, going to the gym, any social gathering at all. We may be doing some anticipatory grief for things that may never come back, for businesses that may not reopen, for changes that may turn out to be permanent. Some of us know people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19, some of us may know people who will not survive the disease. And we have the unknown length of time. Will this last till Victoria Day? Canada Day? Labour Day? Longer?

Add in the economic slump brought on both by the pandemic control measures and the crash of the global oil market and we have to wonder if we will have the same lifestyle that we had even a few months ago.

So much grief. Are we indeed walking through the valley of shadow right now? We could use some Gospel, some Good News in the world today. But we aren’t there yet. I think we are in the midst of Saturday Time (assuming we have indeed gotten past Good Friday). I think we will be in Saturday Time for a while yet.

Saturday Time is an awkward time. We are caught between the disaster of Good Friday and the triumphant words of Easter morning. Saturday is the day when we live with our grief, where we wonder what future there might be, where we just don’t know what will come next. In fact on Saturday we do not know for sure that Sunday will come. I find our culture does not do well with Saturday Time. We want to move quickly from the darkness of Good Friday to the triumph of Easter morning. We don’t like having to wait.

But we have to live in the Saturday Time. We have to allow ourselves to feel the grief and the uncertainty. Only then will we be ready for the surprise that comes next.

We are all, the whole globe, living on Saturday. We are all waiting. We may not not know what we are waiting for but we are waiting. So do what needs to be done on Saturday, that day between death and life, between disaster and triumph. Name your grief and sit with it. It is ok to be sad. Be honest about what makes you anxious or worried. It is ok to be a bit on edge. Be gentle with yourself and others. We are in the middle of a generation-shaping event. We don’t know what will be changed forever as a result. Some things will end. Some things will come back very much as they were before. Some things will come back in a new form. Life may never be the same again (or it might be very much the same, predicting the future is really hard).

But even in the midst of Saturday Time, with the grief and the anxiety and the uncertainty, we are people of hope. That is why we wait. We wait and we watch because we have hope that something will come. The promise of Easter is the promise of life and hope. Life will still win. What it looks like on the other side might surprise us. The Gospel accounts make it clear that Jesus’ closest friends were not expecting Easter. They were not expecting the world to be changed like it was. In the midst of their grief and fear some women went to a tomb on Sunday morning. They went to weep and mourn for the one they loved, for the world they had dreamed was coming. And then they had a shock. Jesus was not there, he had been raised. The darkness of Friday, the mourning of Saturday gave way to joy and wonder mixed with fear. What would happen now?

We will only get to New Life by living through this Saturday Time. But we remain people of hope. Life will still win. Christ is alive. The world will be changed, but Christ is Alive! God is with us! We are not alone! Alleluia!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Book 2 of 2020 --Days of Awe and Wonder

I have enjoyed reading Marcus Borg since I first met him in my first year of seminary. In our Christology class that year we read his Jesus: A New Vision. Since then I have read many of the books he has written by himself and ones he wrote together with John Dominic Crossan.

This volume, published after his death (the afterword is a Eulogy given at his funeral), is a collection of writings, sermons, and lectures from over Borg's career. Some of them felt familiar as I was reading them, only to find out at the end that they were familiar as they were from a book I have read previously. However that is not a problem. It is a gift to read those words again.

There are themes that run through the book, themes about who Jesus is, about what faith means, about what it means to follow the Way offered by Jesus. As one who likes and resonates with Borg's work I found it refreshing.